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IT Pro Camp Tampa 2013

itprocamp

This year I was honored to sponsor and speak at IT Pro Camp Tampa 2013. Like always, it is a great pleasure to give back to the community and get to know people from different technical backgrounds. The event was very well-organized and the venue was great.

This year the entire Agile Bay team spoke at IT Pro Camp delivering 4 sessions in total for Track 2: Business Intelligence & Big Data (SQL Server, Hadoop, etc.). You can download the PowerPoint presentations by clicking on the session links below:

  1. Wes Springob | Introduction To Reporting Services
  2. Jose Chinchilla & Jon Bloom | Introduction to Big Data
  3. Jonathan Bloom | Introduction to T-SQL
  4. Jose Chinchilla |  Introduction to Microsoft BI
Tampa2013_Wes

Wes Springob deliverin Introduction to SSRS

Tampa2013_Attendees

IT Pro Camp Tampa 2013 Attendees

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SQL Server Upgrade error: It is not possible to change the SQL Server features to be upgraded in this release. Validation errors. There are no features selected for upgrade.

On a recent project I was asked to “upgrade” a licensed SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition to SQL Server 2008R2 Enterprise Edition. I have done this multiple times with no issues. The “kicker” was that the upgrade required a 48-hour turnaround time but no installation media for SQL Server Enterprise was going to be available in that same timeframe due to a delay in the procurement process.

In order to meet project requirements and gain some time, a team member suggested we go ahead and do the “upgrade” using a downloaded copy of SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation Edition since Evaluation Edition contains all the Enterprise features that were required. Once the installation media for SQL Server 2008R2 Enterprise arrived, we were to simply upgrade the Evaluation Edition to Enterprise Edition.

My immediate response was that going from a licensed edition to an evaluation edition was not possible. It is not a “natural” upgrade path and is actually considered a “downgrade” as you are going from a licensed edition to an unlicensed edition. As a professional I had to back this statement up with official Microsoft documentation. As a geek no matter what the documentation said I had to try it myself to see what happened. So I did both.

Documentation
A quick search of Books on Line on SQL Server 2008R2 led me to the following MSDN article titled “Version and Edition Upgrades” (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143393(v=sql.105).aspx) . This article is great as it outlines all the supported upgrade scenarios for all versions and editions of SQL Server. A quick scroll towards the bottom shows that the only two upgrade paths supported for Standard Edition is Enterprise and Datacenter. As a matter of fact this article shows that there is no support going from any other edition to Evaluation Edition.

Additionally, there are a couple of footnotes at the bottom. An important footnote to take a look at is footnote No. 2. Although the statements in footnote No. 2 are within the context of failover clusters, some of them also apply to stand-alone installations. In this footnote it is clearly stated that SQL Server 2008R2 Standard to SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation upgrade is not supported.

Test

I wanted to see for myself the error message generated if I tried to carry out the upgrade anyways. Of course I did not try to do this on the actual client’s environment. That is a big no no! I decided to spin up my own sandbox virtual environment. The steps I followed on my test were:

  1. Install SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition (Database Services, Analysis Services, SSMS, BIDS)
  2. Reboot
  3. Upgrade SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition to SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation Edition using the Upgrade Setup Wizard from Installation Center.

As I went through the Upgrade Setup Wizard I got the following validation error as expected:

In summary, you cannot upgrade from a licensed SQL Server edition to SQL Server Evaluation Edition. It is perfectly possible though, to upgrade from SQL Server Evaluation Edition to other licensed SQL Server editions. For more details on the supported upgrade paths refer to MDSN article: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143393(v=sql.105).aspx.

Dynamically generate current Year, Month or Date member with MDX

MDX can be extended with Visual Basic functions like the FORMAT() and NOW() functions to dynamically generate the current year, month or date member. For example, it can be used as part of a named set to generate current year budget and actuals. It can also be used as part of a filter in a Performance Point dashboard.

First, a little review of VB NOW() and FORMAT() function:

NOW()

The NOW() VB function returns the current system date and time. It is similar to the T-SQL GETDATE() function.

FORMAT()

The FORMAT() VB function returns a string formatted according to instructions contained in a format String expression.
Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/59bz1f0h(v=vs.90).aspx

There is an extensive list of characters you can use to create your own date and time formats. You can see the complete list here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/73ctwf33(v=vs.90).aspx

For example, you can extract the year portion of your date in the following formats:

y: Displays the year number (0-9) without leading zeros. Use %y if this is the only character in your user-defined numeric format.
Example: FORMAT(NOW(), “y”)
Result: 1 (for any date in 2011)

yy: Displays the year in two-digit numeric format with a leading zero, if applicable.
Example: FORMAT(NOW(), “yy”)
Result: 11 (for any date in 2011)

yyy or yyyy: Displays the year in four-digit numeric format.
Example: FORMAT(NOW(), “yyy”) or FORMAT(NOW(),”yyyy”)
Result: 2011 (for any date in 2011)

FORMAT() and NOW() with MDX

The following MDX example uses the Adventure Works 2008R2 Analysis Services OLAP cube. Suppose we need to return all Internet Sales for the year 2011. The MDX script would look something like this:

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] ON COLUMNS
FROM [Adventure Works]
WHERE [Date].[Calendar Year].&[2011]

This works just fine and will return the aggregated sales of 2011. (Note: the Adventure Works 2008R2 does not contain sample sales data for 2011, result will be an Empty dataset).

But what if instead of a specific year, you are asked to return the Internet Sales amount for the current year? You have 3 options:

  1. On January 1st at 12:01 AM every year you need to change your MDX script to the new current year.
    CONS: You might be passed out from celebrating New Year’s Eve and most probably you will not get to it until a few days out into the new current year.
  2. You could use some MDX functions like LasNonEmpty and LastChild to figure out the last amounts recorded by the most recent date.
    CONS: You may have forecast data or simply bad data with transactions occurring on dates out into the future. (Trust me, I’ve seen it)
  3. You can build a dynamic MDX script that will return the current year based on the system datetime.
    CONS: It may be too sexy for your cube.

The trick is to construct the Date dimension member using the STRTOMEMBER MDX function. The STRTOMEMBER MDX function stands for “String to Member” and as the name implies, it will convert a string to a dimension member. In this case, we want to generate the [Date].[Calendar Year].&[2011] dimension member from a string using the Year portion of the system datetime.

The dynamic string will look like this:

StrToMember(“[Date].[Calendar Year].&[“+FORMAT(NOW(), “yyyy”)+”]”)

Now we can use it in our MDX script:

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] ON COLUMNS
FROM [Adventure Works]
WHERE StrToMember(“[Date].[Calendar Year].&[“+Format(now(), “yyyy”)+”]”)

The same applies if you want to select or filter data for the current month. In the following example I’m be using the Month level from the Calendar Hierarchy and specifying the month of July (7) for the year 2011:

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] ON COLUMNS
FROM [Adventure Works]
WHERE [Date].[Calendar].[Month].&[2011]&[7]

We can generate the current month member as follows:

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] ON COLUMNS FROM [Adventure Works] WHERE StrToMember(“[Date].[Calendar].[Month].&[“+Format(now(), “yyyy”)+”]&[“+Format(now(), “M”)+”]”)

Note that to specify the Month portion we use CAPITAL letter M because it is case-sensitive. Smallcase letter m stands for minute. The complete list of characters can be viewed here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/73ctwf33(v=vs.90).aspx

SSIS errors: Bulk Load failed. Cannot obtain the required interface (“IID_IColumnsInfo”) from OLE DB provider “BULK” for linked server “(null)

When working with the Bulk Insert Task in SSIS 2008 you may get the following error:

 The complete error message is:

[Bulk Insert Task] Error: An error occurred with the following error message: “Cannot obtain the required interface (“IID_IColumnsInfo”) from OLE DB provider “BULK” for linked server “(null)”.The bulk load failed. The column is too long in the data file for row 1, column 1. Verify that the field terminator and row terminator are specified correctly.”

This error description can make you jump through hoops trying to figure out why is it detecting an error with the OLE DB provider or why does SSIS thinks you are trying to execute this operation on a linked server?

The real issue here has nothing to do with the first  sentence in the error description. Sentence 4 gives you the actual error:

Verify that the field terminator and row terminator are specified correctly.

You may be experiencing this error due to one or more of the following 3 reasons:

1) You may be specifying a wrong CommonDelimiter for your source file.
For example, You may be trying to do a Bulk Insert operation from a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file but did not change the CommonDelimiter property to Comma {,}. When you drag in the Bulk Insert Task the CommonDelimiter property default value is Tab.

2) You may be specifying a wrong RowDelimiter for your source file.
For example, you may be trying to do a Bulk Insert operation from a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file whose row delimiter character is different than the RowDelimiter property default value of {CR}{LF}. In some cases, you may receive a file with a very long stream of text with no Carriage Return (\r)  & Line Feed (\n) characters, commonly denoted as {CR}{LF} in between rows. These hidden {CR}{LF} row delimiter characters are placed on a text file each time you hit the ENTER key on your keyboard denoting the end of a row and beginning of the next row. You may read a little more about the Carriage Return and Line Feed characters in Pinal Dave’s blog: http://blog.sqlauthority.com/2009/07/01/sql-server-difference-between-line-feed-n-and-carriage-return-r-t-sql-new-line-char/

As seen on the image below, there are two properties,  CommonDelimiter and RowDelimiter, that you need to make sure  you specify the correct values for depending on your input or source file format:

.
3) You may be using a format file with an incorrect or invalid format defined.
Format files can be non-xml, commonly with an *.fmt extension or for SQL Server 2005 and later only you can also use xml format files. For more information about format files read MSDN Books on Line http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms191516.aspx

If you are using a format file make sure you are pointing to the right format file or that the format defined in your format file is correct. (Notice that the Format property value changes from Specify to Use File):

I have been Knighted

As I announced on my 2000-2010 a Decade in Retrospect blog post I have joined the ranks at Pragmatic Works and started my first day today. I’m excited to join such a great professional team, full of experts in the SQL Server and Business Intelligence field. There is no waste of time here. Lots of engagements from the get go. Less than an hour at work, I got in my first brainstorming session. An hour later I have been assigned to two client engagements I will be involved with during the next few weeks. I will also be involved with the Virtual Mentoring services. If you have purchased Virtual Mentoring hours from us, I might be giving you a call soon! 

 The atmosphere here at the new offices is laid-back and you can feel a sense of teamwork from all of the guys. If you are looking to make a career move, Pragmatic Works is your best choice. Lots of expansion going on, great carer opportunities and lots of expertise in-house to tap into.

 

Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please!

For many Database Administrators, Data Analysts and other IT and Business Professionals, Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehousing (DW) may be a new and uncharted territory with no clear path towards the destination. Others, who have already jumped head-on into the Business Intelligence journey, may be facing challenges that can potentially put their efforts at the risk of failure. For this reason I put together a presentation titled Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please!

In this presentation I cover terms and acronyms associated with Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. I make a differentiation of what Business Intelligence is and what it is not. I also go over my “10 Rules of Wisdom” towards BI success based on lessons learned from personal experience as well as from insight gained from leading authors and speakers in the BI universe. The purpose of my 10 Rules of  Wisdom is to serve as a guideline for anyone involved in a BI initiaive or in its planning stages.

My “10 Rules of  Wisdom” for Business Intelligence Success are listed below:

  1. The Business Intelligence solution needs strong executive management support. Keyword: Sponsor
  2. The Business Intelligence solution must add value to the organization and be trustworthy.
  3. Always have a Business Intelligence roadmap in clear view.
  4. Define iterative success criteria.
  5. Choose the right technology based on your business and user needs.
  6. The BI solution needs to be understandable and documented.
  7. The BI solution needs to be accessible.
  8. The BI solution must be able to grow according to the business needs.
  9. The BI solution needs to adapt to new business analysis needs.
  10. Partner with experts in the field to help you achieve your goals.

These and other topics can be found on my PowerPoint presentation below which I continuosly enhance for my presentations for SQL Saturdays and User Groups.

 (click on image to download)

Slides updated 3/24/2011

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